Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Not Yet vs. Never Again

Photo courtesy of Joriel "Joz" Jimenez
The writer's life is full of brick walls. And we occasionally run into them--hard. Recently, my buddy and fellow blogger Jaime experienced a rejection of a novella she'd submitted. As we talked about it, I told her it wasn't a "No" it was a "Not Yet." Her time is coming, it just hasn't arrived with this particular novella.

Rejection in any form hurts, and when it's something you want so badly and have poured so much of yourself into, it hurts deeply. In order to get over/around that brick wall, you have to pick yourself up, dry your tears, and get back into the fray, and that takes fortitude, strength, and occasionally a great deal of girl-friend support and chocolates. 

That being said, as we talked, I realized (and expressed to her) that the wait for a writing contract during my recent drought was harder on me than the many rejections I garnered before before I was a published author. These brick walls were bigger to me, harder to climb over, longer to walk around, much more difficult to recover from after I'd hit one.  

Doubts trickled, crept, and finally boldly sashayed into my head.

Now, I'm no stranger to writer's doubts (Which is, I suspect, the root cause of most cases of that phenomenon we term "Writer's Block.) Every author I've ever talked to wonders "Can I do it again? Can I finish another book? What if it isn't as good as the last one? What if someone finally realizes I'm a fraud, that I can't write, that any success I've had up to now has been a complete and utter fluke? What if I can't meet my deadlines? What if..."

But for me me the niggling, gnawing, devouring doubt that came to dominate my mind was 

"What if my Not Yet has turned into Never Again?" 

What if I never had a publishing contract again? Would I be okay with that?

This called for some serious prayer and thought. I found that I was holding so tightly to the attained earthly treasure that Someone would've had to break my heart's fingers to get it from my grasp. Instead of holding my writing up as an offering to God to do with what He wanted, I was clinging to it tighter than a miser to a gold coin.

After prayer, confession, vacillating between being open and honest one moment and lying to myself and God about my motives and heart condition the next, I came to a crossroads. 

I had to stop asking God "What are You doing?" and start saying "Whatever You are doing is all right by me." You see, the former question makes a few assumptions, and I wasn't totally cognizant of the ramifications. By asking God what He was doing, I was implying that
  • perhaps He didn't know what He was doing, 
  • perhaps what He was doing wasn't the best for me, and that 
  • perhaps I could do better if He'd just turn over the reins.

WHAT? I would never say those things to God, would I? 

Gulp. Mea culpa -- big time.

I needed a Come to Jesus meeting. More than one, as it turned out. And it's this time of writing in the wilderness that God has used to bring to light my misconceptions, areas that I was holding on to, the doubts and fears that were keeping me from trusting Him fully. Until I was prepared to acknowledge my place in God's universe and His rightful place in my life, my publishing life was on hold.

Dear Reader, don't mistake me here. God is not some celestial slot machine who, if we pump in enough coins of the right denominations and pull the lever, will shower us with our heart's desire. I wasn't bargaining with God in order to get Him to send me a publishing contract. God doesn't work that way, nor should we treat Him in that fashion. All I'm saying here is that God is using my walk through publishing to teach me more about Him, more about myself, and more about my need to become aware of and throw off my sinful mindset and adopt the mind of Christ. Have I learned everything He hoped I would? Nope, undoubtedly not. Will I have to revisit these lessons? Absolutely. Have I grown spiritually as a result? Yep.

If God said "Never Again" for publishing for me, it would hurt. I can't lie about that. I love writing fiction, I love the writer community, I love meeting readers, I love everything about being an author. I would miss it, and I would grieve. But I'm learning through this journey's ups and downs that the One Thing that doesn't change is my God, who is always sovereign, always seeking my best, and always ready to forgive and help me grow in Him. I need to daily throw myself into trusting that He knows what is best for me, that He does know what He's doing, and that whatever that is is all right by me.

I want to thank you for celebrating the new writing contracts with me. I hope you can celebrate even more the spiritual lessons I've learned and am still learning through this process. 


The winner of last weeks' gift card is:


Congratulations, Amy! You should receive an email from me soon!


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  1. What a wonderful post, Erica!!

    Isn't it true that we have to rejoice and praise God in the bad times as well as the good?? Because it is through those trials that we learn, are strengthened, and mature in our relationship with Him!! Celebrating those spiritual lessons learned and those writing contracts too!!

    Post shared!!

    1. Thanks so much, Bonnie! It is through the hard times that we are reminded of our need to lean on Him and allow Him to purify us through the fire, isn't it? Thanks for sharing the post. :)

  2. I'm sure it's very sad and discouraging to get rejections. How do they know what we as readers would like? Hang in there Jaime!
    It's also hard to listen to God when something we really want doesn't seem to be in His plan. But look at what you learned and got rewarded with Erica!
    Congrats to Amy as well!

    1. It helps to remember that rejections aren't personal (though they can feel that way since we pour so much of ourselves into our work.) Rejections are a business decision, and one that the author frequently has little knowledge of or information on. Perhaps the publisher has already contracted a book with a similar theme, perhaps the story doesn't fit the current needs of the publisher, or perhaps it just isn't quite ready for publication yet. There can be a lot of reasons for a "Not Yet."

      It's still hard though. :S

  3. I was in a similar place back in the spring. Every door I tried to go through with my space opera slammed shut in my face. They were all wonderful about it and I never felt trampled on or discouraged. But it was still hard. Science fiction romance is a hard sell. When it's mostly his POV, it's even harder. I never believed in the easy road anyway...

    I was wrestling with it, decided to put it on the shelf for a bit, and pull out the idea I developed specifically for a traditional publisher. I couldn't get any traction on it. Then I stopped sleeping, which is a surefire sign I'm doing something majorly wrong and every other avenue of God trying to get my attention has failed.

    So I stopped trying to do it my way and asked what He was trying to tell me. He told me the traditional publishing path is closed to me right now, that it was time to send my space opera series into the world. I realized it and said okay, God, and slept great. The next night was even better because I wrote a release date on the calendar.

    Today, two and a half months after making the decision, it went live for pre-order on Nook.

    The center of God's will right now is not what I dreamed of in my own power. But it's such a beautiful place to be! I'm having the time of my life and looking forward to how my characters are received.

    1. :) God's path sometimes seems winding and obscure when we're on it, but when we look back, it's plain as a pikestaff. :) Congrats on having your book ready for pre-order! I hope it sells a million! :D


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